Decree of Death 2019

Decree of Death, 2019. Oil on canvas. 86 x 118 inches

“Now, our souls again flower in the roses of each other’s eyes gazing at your imagination that’s exploded a rose into petals of paint, strewed over your canvas, and spiraled back into a fresh rose to rewind history, question all its crude beauty, its chance fate, its calculated chaos, its clear blur.”
Richard Blanco, Rose As Question

The central figure of Decree of Death is America as a beautifully powerful, confident, and complete woman. She appears out of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, in a pose similar to Christ in Raphael’s Transfiguration in the Vatican Museums or Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel. America is triumphant, conquering twelve European men with her flora, with strangling mangroves and suffocating roses. The roses radiate in Fibonacci spirals out of her vagina, embodying her power as a woman. I explain the inspirations for my use of roses and mangroves on The Europeans description.

The setting for the painting is an abstracted map of Lake Maracaibo. As with the Miami map, the foreground is seen directly from above but the background shifts into a horizon view. My aim is in this abstraction is to give the viewer a feeling of weightlessness. The water of the landscape is replaced with blood to symbolize what Melissa Diaz described as “that moment of violence, trauma and fervor.”

Charcoal study of a fictional map of Lake Maracaibo

The flowers in the painting have multiple raison-d’etre: Elagabalus’ flowers of death, flowers as America’s vagina, and to pose the mathematical question whether or not we have freewill. Arranging the flowers in Fibonacci spirals posses the most important philosophical question: is math invented or discovered. Does the universe have an underlying order or are we projecting a system on to chaos to make sense of it. Are all historical events and human interactions of war and love inevitable-simply flowers in the course of human history.

Formally, the flowers are painted with Monet’s waterlilies in mind. Every single year I visit the Orangerie and every single year I want to run back to the studio to paint.

The title of this painting refers to the Decreto de Guerra a Muerte from Simon Bolivar. This document proclaims “Spaniards and Canarians, count on death, even if indifferent, if you do not actively work in favor of the independence of America. Americans, count on life, even if guilty.

Open this page to view and download “Decree of Death” images and details.

The Roses of Fibonacci
The Roses of Fibonacci at LnS
JW Bailly Art

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